Ouch a stitch!: Hi Guys, On my last 2 runs I've... - Couch to 5K

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Ouch a stitch!


Hi Guys,

On my last 2 runs I've experienced a stitch just under my ribs on the left side after running for about half an hour. It's quite sore but I'm managing to carry on with some deep breaths. Does anyone know why this has started happening and can I prevent it? Is it because I'm running for longer distances?

Best wishes Julia

10 Replies

The reason for stitch is not always clear. It can be running on empty, it can be running with too much fuel on board. You can get it running up/downhill too quickly as that jiggles your middle around quite a bit, and the twisting motion seems to exacerbate things. Concentrate on keeping your arms at your side rather than across your body. See how that goes

If you get stitch. Stop. Reach down and touch your toes. Then reach for the sky with both hands and stretch upwards. You can then bend over sideways into the direction of the stitch, slowly. Usually that will clear it. You can even run for a while with both hands up in the air to stretch our your diaphragm. Usually just the stopping and touching your toes does the job. It could also be that you could be running too quick so try slowing down

Mummy1954 in reply to misswobble

Thank you there are some great tips there which I'll try.

Don't eat anything too high in fat or fibre for a few hours pre-run. Do a longer warmup. Slow down and try to reglate your breathing - try to swap which foot you exhale on.. so if you are exhaling on a right footfall pre-stitch, swap to exhaling on the left foot.

Also, strengthen your core muscles. It's boring advice but only because its true. Do your squats and lunges and planks every day and tighten up those muscles


Mummy1954 in reply to Rignold

Thanks Rignold. What do you suggest is good to eat prior to running? I've never thought about my feet and breathing! I've now managed to get the "in through the nose and out through the mouth sorted", but as for my feet!!!!

Thanks for the help.


I suffer with stitch a lot but have learnt how to manage mine. I run in a morning and have found what works for me. I have 1 slice of toast with peanut butter and a cup of coffee (can't survive without coffee) for breakfast. I then wait an hour and a half before I go for a run. I found eating something before a run really helped me to run better but if I go out before the 1 and half hour mark I suffer stitch badly.

When I start running, I start slow for the first 5 mins, by 5 min mark I find I'm warm and can settle into a steady pace. I make sure I breath deep and controlled. If I feel a stitch coming on then like Rignold says, breathing out on the opposite foot really helps. I must admit when I do this I really breath deep and fill my lungs and then empty them quickly on the opposite foot to the stitch. Doing this a few times seems to halt the stitch and I don't have to stop running. I do slow down a little to make things easier until it passes. I can't breath through my nose ever when runnign, as I always feel like i'm not getting enough air, but everyone is different. Hope you find what works for you ;-)

Mummy1954 in reply to Sezza2u

Thank you Sezza, you've explained the foot thing for me.


The famous side stitch,ache or cramp comes from our diaphragm muscle. Diaphragm is large muscle below our lungs which assist us to breathe. This pain is caused by the internal organs pulling down on our diaphragm.The areas are affected predominately, below the rib cage, around the liver and stomach area.

Ways to prevent side stitches

Drink water to prevent muscle cramps

Strengthen core muscles

Improve overall fitness

Stretch properly before exercise

Exercise on empty stomach (don’t eat 3 hours before)

Run on soft surfaces

Things that can help cure side stitches

1.Try belly breathing; You can do this by pushing out the stomach and inhaling at the same time, when exhaling relax the stomach muscles and draw in towards the body.

2.Stop exercising and place pressure with figures on the right side of your abdomen, exhale slowly whilst applying pressure.

3.Reduce frequency of breathing.(e.g. Inhale and exhale every 2 or 4 steps)

Never get one now as I've got fitter...😊

Mummy1954 in reply to davelinks

Thanks Davelinks, I shall try all your tips and advice. Thank you for your support.


Loads of great advice here... the only time I had a twinge I did the deep belly breaths that davelinks and Laura talk about... now I just need to lose my runners breathers belly!!! :)

Hope it sorts soon!

Yea I do too! Thanks for the support.

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